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A woman's born to weep and fret


Such a great word. I expect most of you are already familiar with the term, but because every time I think that someone proves me wrong, and because I think it's fantastic, I elaborate.

Mansplaining isn't just the act of explaining while male, of course; many men manage to explain things every day without in the least insulting their listeners.

Mansplaining is when a dude tells you, a woman, how to do something you already know how to do, or how you are wrong about something you are actually right about, or miscellaneous and inaccurate "facts" about something you know a hell of a lot more about than he does.

Bonus points if he is explaining how you are wrong about something being sexist!

Think about the men you know. Do any of them display that delightful mixture of privilege and ignorance that leads to condescending, inaccurate explanations, delivered with the rock-solid conviction of rightness and that slimy certainty that of course he is right, because he is the man in this conversation?

That dude is a mansplainer.

Sadly, many of these dudes are our bosses or supervisors or other authority figures to whom we cannot give much crap. But if it's someone you know in a social setting, etiquette experts agree that the appropriate thing to do is to roll your eyes and say, "Oh, please, mansplain to me some more."

You are doing him a favour. Friends don't let friends foster mansplaining.

ETA: Follow-up talking about why I don't think a gender-neutral term accurately describes the privilege behind this behaviour.

No one seems to know who came up with this term - I myself saw it in several places prior to writing this post - but the most likely antecedent is this article by Rebecca Solnit.


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May. 7th, 2009 03:50 pm (UTC)
I earnestly hope that if I ever do this, someone (verbally) smacks me. I've seen the behaviour, and it makes me cringe often.
May. 7th, 2009 04:15 pm (UTC)
You know, as a man, you can also grab a dude, pull him aside, and say "Hey, man, do you know what mansplaining is?"

V. USEFUL, male feminists!
(no subject) - morbid_curious - May. 7th, 2009 04:44 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - lauredhel - May. 7th, 2009 05:43 pm (UTC) - Expand
May. 7th, 2009 04:07 pm (UTC)
I don't know who coined it, but it's definitely a useful word. I've seen it around for... at least the last 6 months, anyway.
May. 7th, 2009 04:23 pm (UTC)
Some sleuthing: Rebecca Solnit, April 13, 2008, does not use the word itself that I saw, but a link to her from someone else on May 31, 2008 uses the word, and does not seem to be coining it or particularly expecting her readers to think it's a new word.

A quick perusal of google hit dates suggests that its prominence rose in April 2008; I haven't found any earlier hits yet, but it may be buried in a blogging thread someplace.
(no subject) - karenhealey - May. 7th, 2009 04:24 pm (UTC) - Expand
May. 7th, 2009 04:08 pm (UTC)
May. 7th, 2009 04:14 pm (UTC)
Yup, I did the googling. I can't find the originator, is my problem.
May. 7th, 2009 04:08 pm (UTC)
I love the word Mansplainer and adding it to my vocabulary to use on several dudes I know. If Nancy of Nancy Buttons doesn't have buttons about Mansplainers at Balticon 43, I'm going to have a few created for Me and my Daughters.
(Deleted comment)
May. 7th, 2009 07:25 pm (UTC)
Yeah, I do seem to remember a “thanks for mansplaining it to us!” there, more than a year ago"? But FW is unindexed by google, tragically.
(no subject) - lady_ganesh - Aug. 11th, 2009 11:35 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - troubleinchina - May. 8th, 2009 05:57 am (UTC) - Expand
May. 7th, 2009 10:15 pm (UTC)
I've seen this sort of behavior transcend gender and race so I think something along the lines of douchesplaining may be more appropriate.
May. 7th, 2009 10:45 pm (UTC)
I'm puzzled by this "douche is gender neutral" idea (the second time it's appeared in this thread, so it's obviously a common cultural concept, at least in some countries). Since a literal douchebag is something used only by women, therefore implying something that touches women's genitals is the lowest of the low, I see it as a pretty sexist insult. But it's not from my culture - am I missing something?
(no subject) - opheliastorn - May. 7th, 2009 11:27 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - msconduct - May. 7th, 2009 11:38 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - opheliastorn - May. 8th, 2009 03:45 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - lauredhel - May. 8th, 2009 02:45 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - msconduct - May. 8th, 2009 03:33 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - jupiter9 - Feb. 7th, 2010 06:24 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - karenhealey - May. 8th, 2009 01:37 am (UTC) - Expand
May. 8th, 2009 12:28 am (UTC)
WHAT NO I had not heard of this marvellous word, Karen! Yet I am so familiar with this phenomenon! If ever a word needed to be coined, it was this one.

Mind if I get cards made up with your handy-dandy definition for the male 'Huh?' moment after I hit them with that snappy one-liner?
May. 8th, 2009 02:05 am (UTC)
Uh? Karen? I'm with you about 99% of the time on these trenchant little observations. But right now you are extolling the virtues of a word which agglomerates a major personality defect directly onto a gender.

Please stop that. It's not pretty.
May. 8th, 2009 02:12 am (UTC)
I'm not saying condescension and ignorance are exclusive to men. I'm using that term to refer to that behaviour *when men do it to women as an expression of privilege*.

You might like the followup better:
(no subject) - karenhealey - May. 8th, 2009 02:13 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - lauredhel - May. 8th, 2009 02:50 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - cicipsychobunny - May. 8th, 2009 11:52 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - johnpalmer - Mar. 27th, 2010 08:52 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - johnpalmer - Mar. 27th, 2010 08:54 pm (UTC) - Expand
May. 8th, 2009 03:19 am (UTC)
Sinead O'Connor used the word "mantrolling" in her song No Man's Woman. Not quite the same, but that's what I thought of as soon as I saw the word. And only too true
May. 8th, 2009 02:32 pm (UTC)
Then there's "manssuming," when the man assumes something really sexist and stupid, like that, though it's okay for you not to wear makeup now, you'll want to in the future after you stop looking so good, or that you'll want to think of marrying soon because you're in your 30s.
May. 8th, 2009 02:35 pm (UTC)
Oh, or that, you know, it's your 32nd birthday, but you must really wish you were 29, 'cause then you'd still be in your twenties! The golden age of getting male sexual attention!
May. 21st, 2009 04:16 am (UTC)
*flails wildly* (Here via friendsfriends) THIS! Last Saturday I was on my way to a party. Took a taxi from the station. I sat in the front, like you do in Australia and chatted. Because that's how I react when someone is driving me around.

We quickly exhausted the topic of conversation of the weather, where he told me that I was wrong with my predictions of what it was going to be like (yeah, I wasn't. But I'll give him that, given that it's Melbourne and you pretty much have a 1 in... however many chance of it being some combination of wet, cold, hot, muggy, windy, sunny, overcast, foggy, or sleeting. Sometimes you can go through all of them on the same day!). So we moved onto football.

We talked about our predictions for the upcoming matches that weekend. About how I feared St Kilda (my team) were going to break my heart again by breaking their winning streak. I mentioned that they were due to win the competition at some stage, as their last premiership was in '66.

"Oh no," said he. "I don't remember what year they last won, but I'm sure it wasn't that. Maybe you're thinking of 76."

Dude, I have been following this team since I was BORN. I know when their last premiership was. I can tell you all the years they got to the finals and didn't win.

I love how he assumed that because he's male, he knows better than I do. Even though I'd said I was a fan, and they're my team, and even though he DOESN'T know and is not sure, I obviously don't know anything about them. *headdesks*
Feb. 2nd, 2010 10:17 am (UTC)
Am I the only one who sees the obvious, classic connection with Rickie Ricardo and the way he spoke to Luci: "I gotta 'splain something to you, Luci!". And the way she made the face and he was just so completely unconscious in his male smugness?
Feb. 2nd, 2010 10:24 am (UTC)
Is that from I Love Lucy? I've never seen that show, but it sounds likely!
(no subject) - (Anonymous) - Feb. 2nd, 2010 11:45 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - karenhealey - Feb. 2nd, 2010 12:13 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - (Anonymous) - Feb. 2nd, 2010 01:16 pm (UTC) - Expand
Feb. 12th, 2010 03:39 am (UTC)
I know this thread is almost a year old now, but I have such a great Mansplaining story to share you guys!

I was discussing a scene in Sin City with a male friend, wherein a female cop is disturbed while lounging around her house in nothing but a g-string.

ME: That was total crap, if you wanted to be lazing around the house all day and thought you wouldn't be disturbed, you'd wear the comfiest undies possible!
DUDE: Why? Most girls find g-strings as comfortable normal underwear.
ME: What? But they're not that comfortable. Certainly not in a lounge-around-in-my-undies way.
DUDE: YES THEY ARE. I heard a girl say she found g-strings comfortable this one time!
ME: But... I WEAR g-strings, and you don't, and I'm telling you they're no more comfortable...

So basically, Dude tried to invalidate my experiences with MY OWN GOD DAMN UNDERWEAR.
May. 16th, 2010 09:27 pm (UTC)
mansplainin' makes me rabid
That is so classic. I am an American foreign woman in another country and it is way worse, even,where I am living. Most of these men are back in the 1950s. I try to avoid interaction with men here for that reason. They are really atavistic. I recently had one guy (who could have stepped out of a redneck exploitation movie, all he needed was a wifebeater and a six-pack and a dog to kick, LOL, but he was a lawyer) tell me that there were a lot of big important "forts" in a particular American state. Now. At this time, not during the Civil War or something. I said I knew for a fact that this was not true. He said it WAS true. Now, I worked for the military, had a clearance, I know American history, I tested out with an IQ of almost 150, and I know where the larger and more sensitive facilities are. This guy didn't even know there was more than one state with "Virginia" in its name, was not American, and had never worked for the military, but damn he had a PECKER and knew how to USE it. Yessirree bob, little lady! AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA! throttlethrottlethrottle
Feb. 25th, 2010 10:45 am (UTC)
IMO Mansplainer correct term
I copied this article to my blog to give it wider access and although I credited Karen, I failed to include the link. This has been corrected now.

My sincere apologies.
Feb. 25th, 2010 10:54 am (UTC)
Re: IMO Mansplainer correct term
Apology accepted; thank you for the amendation.
Nov. 2nd, 2010 08:58 am (UTC)
Thank you! I've experienced this more times than I can count, (especially on issues of sexism), but didn't know there was a term for it. I'm linking to this on my LJ and DW. :)
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